The Streamflow Restoration program works with partners to collect high quality streamflow data, to better understand the causes of unnatural streamflows, and to inform and support policy and actions that restore and maintain healthy streamflows. Data collected as part of the Streamflow Restoration program may be found here. DER also manages a number of Streamflow Priority Projects. The Jones River Flow Restoration Project is a good example.
Why Care About Streamflow
Streamflow is a critical cornerstone to aquatic health. Rivers and streams are naturally dynamic and this dynamism is shaped by variations in how much water flows through the stream. For example, spring floods give fish critical access to floodplain wetlands; moderately high flows move sediment, seeds, and other organic materials through the system; and low flows allow plant species to grow in areas that would otherwise be covered in water. Variability in streamflow ensures a variety of physical habitats form within and along a river; these habitats in turn support a wide range of aquatic species. The natural timing of high or low flows cue many species to make important life cycle transitions – for example, they may trigger fish to spawn or migrate, or plants to flower or disperse seeds. Alteration of natural flow patterns may improve the likelihood of non-native species invasion. These are just a few examples of the numerous and complex relationships between natural streamflow patterns and thriving aquatic ecosystems.
The Low Flow Inventory file size 1MB provides information and observations about streams with unnatural flow problems and summarizes the extent of streamflow alteration and depletion on a statewide basis. Developed in 2002, we expect that specific streams today may experience different conditions than those described within but this is a good snapshot to flow stress in Massachusetts.